If you ask me on September 23rd to name my favorite season, I’ll claim that it’s autumn. If you pose the question three months later, I’ll swoon over winter. And if you inquire again on the vernal equinox, I’ll point out the fresh green of spring and wonder how anyone could prefer another.
In this way, I am fickle. When it comes to the seasons, I most love the one that I am in, while still remaining aware enough of the others that I eagerly anticipate each one.
Thus it will not surprise you to hear that for now, my favorite season is summer. I’m in love with the heat of the days; the generosity of sunlight; the peaches and plums and blueberries and corn; the beach, the light clothes, the ice cream. The days are speeding by, and I am spending as much time as possible outside, chameleoning myself as ordered by the sun, changing my colors from pale and brunette to tan and blondish.
This weekend, New York – normally so thickened by the heat – offered a glimpse of the beauty of summer in the city, doing so with such conviction that I wondered if I should be moving to Brooklyn, instead of California. The uncomfortable desire spurred me into looking at jobs there, and I wonder if this might be the moment in which I change everything by not taking a chance I’ve already started to take.
I digress. In any case, this weekend, Brooklyn revealed itself slowly, a veil dragged across heavily-lidded eyes, daring me to engage.
At one point, I found myself in a whiskey bar that doubles as a flower shop. There can only be a few of these in the world, I imagine, the marriage of orchids in a light square of space up front and a dark, custom-made resin bar in back coaxing me to stay. The offer of a pint and a bouquet for $10 is so inviting, and I discovered a longing to return on the Ides of each month, when the bar hosts a zodiac party, complete with tarot cards and cocktail specials.
Over the course of several days, I shared bottles of wine with friends while sitting on covered porches, and drank whisky while listening to Neil Young, lamenting the fact that we were not driving somewhere out West in an old pickup truck. Yet one of my favorite beverages of the weekend was fresh watermelon juice, radiant and refreshing, with green mint leaves floating as rafts among drifting islands of ice.
There was little need to go anywhere, to explore anything, and yet of course that happens constantly in New York. Venturing into Manhattan for an evening, a friend took me to her favorite massage place in Chinatown before dinner. We laid next to each other in a darkened room with sheets for dividers; an Asian man in a yellow shirt and wire-rimmed glasses stood over me, sucking on a candy in what became an oddly comforting sound against the twangs of an exotic stringed instrument piped in overhead. He pummeled my back and pulled on each one of my legs, bending and swinging them so fully that I wondered if they might fly away.
But out of the entire weekend, I found summer most clearly in Prospect Park, where so many groups gathered on Saturday that the air was wholly infused with the smell of barbequed meat. I wanted to join in, to walk up to a random mix of people and anonymously fold into their landscape, which seemed, over and over again, like the realization of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.” It was all there: the heat, the preening, the basketball, the summer madness, the air full of love and of happiness.
And maybe that’s what I love most about this time of year: it is imbibed with a sense of nostalgia that reaches for a time that might never have even existed, all of the stories we’ve swapped over the years combining into one single sense of having been everywhere, experienced everything, in the long days and warm nights of summer.
No wonder that it’s my favorite season – at least until the cool breezes and cuddly clothes of autumn arrive, when you’ll find me hiking in long pants and roasting vegetables for dinner like nothing in the world could be better.